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Not So Innocent

Suppose the country’s government were run by children between the ages of four and eight. Further suppose that this situation is unalterable; protesting against it – advocating that adults be put in charge – is futile.

In this world, all political discussions would be directed at, and by, young kids. All elections would be for the purpose of choosing which particular children will exercise government power for the next few years.

This little thought experiment conveys my sense of politics. I don’t insist that my sense is correct, but it is truly my sense.

Because this is my sense, I don’t vote. Choosing which children will wield political power strikes me as both pointless and comical. True, some children are better than others, but most are brats if they’re insufficiently constrained by adult discipline.

Why is this my sense? Simple: a child is someone who is insufficiently mature to understand and deal with the fact that our world is inevitably one of scarcity and tradeoffs. Children revolt against constraints (while good parenting involves teaching children that constraints are unavoidable).

Imagine a set of parents who tell their child “Junior, no matter what you do, we’ll do all that we can to relieve you of the unpleasant consequences. Also, whatever you want, don’t worry, we’ll buy it for you.” Spending other people’s money willy-nilly, and being able to shift blame for your actions onto others encourages childish behavior.

Politicians spend other people’s money. And because the consequences of whatever political choices he or she makes are typically spread out in complex fashion among thousands or millions of people – and because the world is a far more knotty place than many people seem to realize – politicians can easily take credit for whatever pleasant events unfold and point accusing fingers at others for whatever unpleasant events come to pass.

This essay of mine expands this idea.